All roads lead to the Great Hall of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) as the Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II graces a special event marking the 150th anniversary of the Sagrenti War, also known as the Sir Garnet Wolseley War, Tuesday (6 February).
The Sagrenti War, as named by the British, was not a war from the Asantes’ perspective, according to history. The “backdoor attack” saw the palace of the then Asantehene burnt to ashes with explosives and other valuables stolen as booty.
In a brief recount on Asaase Cafe on Asaase 98.5MHz-Kumasi on Monday (5 February), Otumfuo Hiahene, Nana Prof Oheneba Boachie Agyei Woahene II told host Naa Klordey Fritzal Abban that dozens of soldiers were killed in what he described as a grand invasion on the Asante Kingdom.
“Sir Garnet Wolseley set out to evade Asante in 1874 and reached Fomena. This is where the chief of Fomena alerted the Otumfuo that there was a British expeditionary force heading towards Kumasi. And he was coming with not just the British but other foreigners [including] Nigerians, Dahomeys, Jamaicans, Indians, he was coming with a large force because he knew the might of the Asantes.
“He [had] stated that nobody can stop him from coming to Kumasi and the only condition that would probably prevent him from doing that was if the King paid fifty thousand pounds of pure gold, surrendered his mother, his father and the royals of Mensah Bonsu and other major divisions and release the captives but this was not possible…He still proceeded to go from Praso to Fomena and then the first war was waged at Amoafo. And it was a very terrible war that Asante lost over 4,000 men in just a single day”, the chief narrated.
Otumfuo Hiahene, Nana Prof Oheneba Boachie Agyei Woahene II
Speakers for Tuesday’s programme include Prof. Emmanuel Akyeampong, the Oppenheimer Faculty Director of the Harvard University Centre for African Studies, and Dr Tom McCaskie, the head of the Centre of West African Studies at Birmingham University. Other notable speakers from KNUST include Samuel Ntewusuo, Wilhelmina Donkoh and Dr. Eugenia Anderson.
The highlight of the event is the launch of a 700-page book titled “History of Asante,” authored by Otumfuo Sir Agyeman Prempeh II and edited by Dr. McCaskie. This comprehensive book delves into the incidents of the Sagrenti War, providing a detailed historical account.
Otumfuo Hiahene is urging the general public to be part of this event.
It is the course of the war, the happenings of the war and happenings after the war. Those are the key areas our panellists will be covering…It is an open invitation, no gate fee, and we want all and sundry to come and participate in this symposium and learn of the happenings we did not witness and be part of the knowledge of Asante history because it is through the past that we can learn from the future”, he said.
Following the symposium, a significant event called the “Kuntunkuni” Durbar is scheduled to take place at Dwabrem at the Manhyia Palace in Kumasi.
At a press conference on 2 February, Juabenhene mentioned that some artefacts stolen during the war, which later ended up in the Fowler Museum, will be officially presented to Otumfuo after successful negotiations.
The Durbar promises to be a momentous occasion, commemorating the historical significance of the “Sagrenti War” and showcasing the cultural richness of the Asante Kingdom.
Reporting By Lordina Agyemang Duah, Asaase Newsroom, Kumasi
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